Chrysoberyl, as a gemstone in its own right is relatively unknown. This is partly because of its confusion with another gemstone family, Beryl. These two families of gemstones are actually quite different – with Beryl being a silicate and Chrysoberyl being an oxide, although both comprise beryllium within their composition. Members of the Chrysoberyl family include Alexandrite and Cymophane – that is better known as “Cat’s Eye. Both of these gemstones have become better known than the stone from which they are derived.
Natural Chryoberyl gemstones exhibit yellow, yellow-green or brownish colors and have a transparent quality. They are fairly robust stones with a hardness of 8.5 that makes them the 4th hardest gemstones behind the topaz, the corundums (eg rubies and sapphires) and diamonds.
The name Chrysoberyl originates from the Greek language and means “a gold white spar” – a name that particularly reflects the translucent qualities of the family members “Cat’s Eye” and the Alexandrite – as well as its own sparkling transparent appearance.
Discovered in 1789 by a German geologist, Abraham Werner, the Chrysoberyl was subsequently called the Chrysolite during the Victorian and Edwardian periods – a name that has also been given to the gemstone Peridot – adding to further confusion.
Whilst the Chrysoberyl does not possess the same color changing characteristics as the “Cat’s Eye” or the Alexandrite, as a gemstone for rings and other jewelry it has a transparency and sparkle that makes it very attractive. Also, because it is not as well known as other stones, it can be purchased at a relatively low price.